Its almost time for back to school

As you prepare to head off to college, or send your child off, there are many items you will be busy purchasing for your apartment or dorm room. One of the most important components will be a computer. A laptop is a very necessary part of your college experience, and I see hundreds of students carrying them into my classes each semester. All different brands from the most expensive (well over $1,000) to the least expensive (under $200). Before you run out and buy yourself or your child the MacBook Air trying to justify its link to academic success, understand there are new rules in many college classrooms across the nation. There are no clear policies at colleges and universities for where and when to use laptops in the classroom. It is up to the discretion of every individual professor as to when and if they allow the use of them in the classroom.

Recent research is finding students' inability to multitask in the classroom a distraction to the retention of class material. The study by Bernard R. McCoy, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Media Education, found students continue to waste class time by using their smart phone or laptop to text, check social media or surf the web. The same study finds students admit they find it a distraction to their learning.  The tough part for many of these students is actually shutting their phones or laptops off during class, and not all professors have clear guidelines on their policies for electronic devices.

Therefore, keep in mind the following:

1. It is absolutely encouraged and acceptable to take notes the old fashioned way on paper with a pen or pencil!

2. The majority of my students across many colleges STILL USE PAPER and PEN to take notes. 

3. If you still want a laptop consider an inexpensive, light one. 

4. A laptop  is nice to have but not a necessity. All colleges have computer labs for student use (and some allow access 24 hours a day). Most colleges even allow students to check out laptops for an extended period of time.

5. A printer is also not a necessity. With so many assignments being submitted electronically they are not used as often as a decade ago. Additionally, all colleges offer printing stations where students can print assignments for a small fee.

How to Nail a speech

So I am back this summer teaching a public speaking class....its been awhile and I am really enjoying the nervous energy from all the men and women in the course. The first night of class I asked students to pull out a piece of paper and write anonymous questions regarding their concerns for the course, or anything else. The majority of them asked about how to control their nervousness when having to stand up and speak to an audience. I offered them the following advice:

1. First, understand that you will not be asked to give a speech or presentation unless it is on a topic you are already comfortable with or on a topic others perceive you as an expert in. Therefore approach the entire process through the lens of confidence. Confidence in your ability to know your subject and confidence to present it effectively.

2. Second, Before you start writing find out the specifics of the audience. Spending time performing some basic audience analysis can be crucial to your success. Find out how many people you will be presenting your speech to as well as what their ages, education level, gender, group membership, ethnicity and socioeconomic level are. This will help you tailor your message appropriately.

3. Next, Determine how long you will be expected to speak and stick to it! If you are given 10 minutes to speak keep it to 9 minutes and 30 seconds. DO NOT GO OVER TIME! Unless you are God, the President or Oprah, people do not want you to speak longer than expected. Make sure you plan your speaking outline to meet this requirement.

4.  Then, its time to write your speech, following a basic writing outline with no more than 4 main points with an effective introduction including a "hook" is the easiest way to do this. Your outline should look something like this:

I. Introduction - (Opening Device) Put a detailed creative "hook" here where you really get the attention of the audience, add detail, facts, stats, quotations, etc. Then deliver a clear thesis statement and a preview of what you will cover in your main points.

II Body- This will be comprised of 2-4 main points and should only be fragments and keywords when you write it. This will force you to speak conversationally and sound natural and connect with the audience. It also forces you to make more eye contact.

III Conclusion- Conclude with a brief summary of your main points and a reference back to your introduction (Keep this short, no more than 45 seconds)

5. Finally, don't forget to make eye contact and speak slowly. Practice ahead of time and record yourself. It is hard to watch but crucial to improvement! Then, smile and have fun delivering your message!

Good Luck!!!!!

For High Schoolers: So you want to go to college......

So you have decided you want to go to college, that's great! Now just make sure you are really going for the right reason. Have you decided what you want to do for your career? If not, then you need to figure that out first. There are many careers that don't require a four year degree, and these are just a enjoyable and lucrative! Here are some great links to look up more information about what type of degree your major will require




Common Questions: The "A" student dilemma

But I was an "A" student in high school, why do I have a C in this class?

You mastered high school just like many other students here, that’s great, it shows you know how to follow instructions and take direction from a “boss" (teacher). Now that you are in college you have to master taking directions from many bosses at once, as you will often have 3-4 different professors throughout a semester.  I often tell my students the most difficult part of college is remembering that in order to do well you have to first figure out what each professor wants and then give it to them. You might not agree, you might not understand, but if you are interested in an "A" then sometimes that just isn't as important.

This might mean for some of you actually taking the time to attend your professor’s office hours and asking specific questions about assignments. Do not simply assume based on previous courses!!!! Also, it is crucial to  make friends in every course to ask questions and chat with. There will be days you can't make it to class or realize at 11 p.m. you have a question on an assignment due in 9 hours. There is no way you are getting a hold of hour professor, text your friend from class instead! Additionally, if you are still needing extra help understanding the requirements for a course,  use the many campus resources available to all students: tutoring, writing center, counseling, etc. You will soon be on your way to getting those A's back in no time!



Common Questions: I Hate My Major, Help!

Dr. Winters, I hate my major but am getting ready to start my senior year of college, what should I do?

If many of you are like me, you fell in love with the idea of college, living on your own, joining a fraternity or sorority, and didn't give much thought to your actual major. Your parents told you it was important to get a college degree so you declared  a major: business. This worked until you had to take microeconomics, accounting and business law and then realized you didn't enjoy it.  This is a common theme among many students who haven't spent much time soul searching to determine what it is they actually enjoy doing. But you must not simply settle! Don't just graduate because you feel like you have to. Work on finding a major and career choice you will be excited about doing on the daily! Here are some simple steps to get started:

1. An easy way to do this is by working backwards. In order to understand what your dream job really entails you must first have an idea in your head of what industry (or specific company) you have always wanted to wok in. Is it Finance? Entertainment? Law? Technology? Then start talking to friends and family members to identify any connections you may have. If there are none then simply seek out someone with your dream job to ask for an interview. It can be anyone! You are looking for any insight, so remember to be open minded about meeting new people, even if they are a CEO and seem out of reach.

2. Once you have identified an interviewee, simply make the connection via email, telephone, or social media. Be honest with them. Tell them you are a college student researching careers and want to know about their experiences. People love talking about themselves, and are much more open to helping college students because they don't perceive them as competition.

3. Next, you should schedule a time/list of questions to ask them regarding the specific path they took. For best results this should happen face-to-face over coffee, or lunch.  Be sure to ask about major, classes, internships, jobs, and for any other pertinent career advice they might have. Come prepared with paper to take notes or record the conversation with their approval. Be sure to also ask about what a typical day looks like. Ask them what time they start their day, what time they get home, if they have time for hobbies, family, etc. Be creative with your questions.

4. Finally, when the interview is over and you have thanked them for their time, reassess your major and career choice. If you are not happy and don't have a plan repeat steps 1-4 until satisfied!

 Do not settle, Do not graduate, Figure out a plan, path, goal, career that will make YOU happy! Now is the time, while you are still in the college mindset, many of you with no other distractions.


Common Questions: the 4 year myth

Q. Because I am not getting the classes I need, I don't think I am going to be able to graduate in 4 years, what should I do?

A; Relax! According to a 2014 report  by Complete College America only  19% of undergraduates at a public institution (non-research) graduate in 4 years. it is definitely the exception these days.  Unfortunately many parents (and our current culture) seem to believe if a student takes longer to earn a Bachelor’s degree they are just slacking off or not taking school seriously. When in reality, according to the same report, the reasons are because of lack of planning, students transfers, and extra course credits. What does this mean? That we are the ones to blame. We are not teaching students about the many types of careers and jobs available with an earned college degree. This needs to start in middle school and high school Strengths should be identified and encouraged with more courses encouraging job shadowing and informational interviews. Additionally, many students don’t even understand how many majors exist let alone how they translate into a daily work schedule. We should be encouraging students to work.Every college student should work! Part time or on campus is a great option, but working provides students with common knowledge on life after college and the interviewing/hiring process that is essential, and it is NOT a requirement for graduation. Employers want to see you have work experience, so get after it.  Additionally, college has also changed. Many majors require internships, practicums or co-ops which make it difficult for many students to find time within four years to balance it all, especially those that have to work while attending school. So the easy answer is to think about who is more worried about you not graduating in 4 years, you or your parents? Just remember if you don’t rely on your parents for support you don’t have to dwell on their apparent disapproval.

So this just happened......

I have decided its time to venture out and try something new.....I am officially offering advice to three distinct groups of people: Potential college students, current college students, and recent college graduates. So go ahead, ask me anything, unsure about how to start thinking about colleges? Not sure what classes to register for? Maybe you aren't sure the best way to succeed in a difficult course. Let me know, watch my YouTube Videos or leave me a comment.